From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia
By Swami Harshananda
Vidyā literally means ‘knowledge,’ ‘science’.
Origin of the Word
The word is derived from the verbal root ‘vid’ which means to know’.</ref> the term vidyā stands for knowledge in general and also for any organised body of knowledge.
Vidyā as per Upaniṣads
The Upaniṣads divide vidyā into two varieties:
- Aparāvidyā - lower knowledge comprising all worldly sciences including the Vedas
- Parāvidyā - spiritual wisdom resulting in God-experience
Vidyā as per Arthaśāstra
Vidyā, when understood as ātmavidyā, is posited as the antidote of avidyā or nescience. The Arthaśāstra of Kauṭilya recognises four kinds of vidyās:
- Ānvīkṣikī - logic and metaphysics
- Trayī - the three Vedas excluding the Atharvaveda
- Vārttā - agriculture, trade and allied vocations
- Daṇḍanītī - statecraft
Vidyā as per Viṣṇupurāṇa
The Viṣṇupurāṇa lists 18 vidyās as follows:
- 4 Vedas
- 6 Vedāṅgas
Sometimes this word is used to indicate special modes of meditation such as Aksipurusavidyā, Bhumavidyā and so on. The 64 kalās are also sometimes known as vidyās.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore